In the late 1600s a small congregation of people joined together on the North Branch of Wolfsnare Creek on the Lynnhaven River. With faith and hope they built the first of several buildings that would become the center of their community. Churches were built along the waterways as “rivers were the highways and flat-bottomed skiffs were used by those who lived too far to come on foot.”* To those sturdy settlers, the river was a lifeline, providing food, as well as transportation for themselves and their incoming and outgoing goods. Their art and early writings tell us that they loved and appreciated its beauty much as we do today.
This weekend, three hundred and twenty five years later, Eastern Shore Chapel Episcopal Church celebrated their anniversary and amazing survival with continuous service to the community. Though, sadly the original members would find the Lynnhaven drastically changed today with a population of 447,021 still mostly centered around the river, we have practically loved her to death. However, they would also be proud to see their current congregants renewing their faith, hope, and stewardship, as they have become part of the Pearl Faith Community partnering with Lynnhaven River NOW. As part of their conservation landscaping they have already installed rain barrels and planted natives in their school butterfly garden. Future plans include a rain garden to decrease storm water run-off, and native plantings for a labyrinth and prayer garden. Their celebration party was a carefully planned Zero Trash event, ending up with approximately 400 gallons of compostable materials, 96 gallons of recyclables, and only 2.5 gallons of landfill trash! They also collected 4,000 oyster shells for oyster restoration!
On Sunday we were happy to present them with their Pearl Faith Award Banner, a beautifully handcrafted depiction of a “slice” of the river, complete with oysters and pearl. We applaud this congregation who, with simple acts of stewardship, are now working to save their beloved river so that it will continue to be a source of sustenance and joy for future members in the next three hundred and twenty five years.
Find more information about Eastern Shore Chapel here.
Written by Pam Northam, Pearl Faith Coordinator, LRNow
*Excerpt from The History of Eastern Shore Chapel and Lynnhaven Parish, 1642-1969, written by Louisa Venable Kyle, 2006.